Tag Archives: Kuwait

'Jihadi John' says he's sorry

Don’t you know that it really sucks to be Jihadi John these days?

His real name is Mohammed Emwazi. He was born in Kuwait. His family emigrated to Great Britain, I guess when he was young, as he speaks now with a British accent.


Jihadi John has been seen on those hideous videos purporting to show the beheading of innocent victims. He wields a knife and makes threats against Barack Obama, along with other Western leaders who are intent on capturing — or killing — this madman.

I’ve been wondering: How does someone such as this go through daily life knowing that every spook from countries allied with the United States is trying to find him?

Does this goon perform acts the rest of us do? You know, such as buy groceries, go to the movies, take a walk in the park, hang out with friends?

Now this monster says he’s sorry. He’s apologized to his family for being “outed” and for the disruption he’s caused them. Well, I feel a certain degree of sympathy for them, too. They more than likely didn’t drive him to join the Islamic State and become one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

Emwazi didn’t apologize for the horrific crimes he has committed. Then again, no one would expect that from a remorseless killer.

Here’s hoping this ghoul lives in fear for the rest of what’s left of his life.


Take care in defining 'combat veteran'

It didn’t take Joni Ernst long to make a name for herself in the U.S. Senate.

The Iowa Republican is now defending her military record in which she defines herself as a “combat veteran.”

I would caution her to speak very carefully when using such terminology.

At issue is her service in an Iowa National Guard transportation company in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003 and 2004. She calls herself a “combat veteran” even though she didn’t face enemy fire during her deployment in the Middle East.


Sen. Ernst defends her record, saying that because she drew hazardous duty pay while deployed, she has earned the right to call herself a combat vet.

“I am very proud of my service and by law I am defined as a combat veteran,” Ernst said. “I have never once claimed that I have a Combat Action Badge. I have never claimed that I have a Purple Heart. What I have claimed is that I have served in a combat zone.”

Technically, she is correct. But it is a technicality that can be misconstrued. She needs to be careful how she uses such language in the future.

I understand where she’s coming from. I, too, served in a war zone for a time. The Vietnam War was raging when I arrived in-country in the spring of 1969. I received hazardous duty pay while serving as a U.S. Army aircraft mechanic and later as a flight operations specialist at the I Corps Tactical Operations Center in Da Nang.

Do I refer to myself as a “combat veteran”? No. I didn’t see direct combat — except for having to run for cover while the Viet Cong lobbed mortars into our position on occasion.

Sen. Ernst is rightfully proud of her service in Iraq and Kuwait, as I am of my service many years ago during another armed conflict.

But be careful, senator, when using terms such as “combat vet,” especially around those who’ve actually seen the real thing.


Let's debate this war declaration notion

Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, is quite correct to call attention to whether the United States of America has gone to war under the rules set forth by the U.S. Constitution.

He was speaking this morning on ABC-TV’s “This Week” and said the debate should have commenced 30 years ago.

The Constitution states in Article I, Section 8 that Congress has the power “To declare war.”

There it is. No argument. No qualifier. The power to declare war rests exclusively with Congress.

And yet …

We’ve been to war in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, Korea — am I missing anything? — without Congress voting on a declaration of war.

The discussion this morning comes just as the United States is gathering a coalition of allies to bomb the Islamic State into oblivion as it seeks to destroy what’s been called “an existential threat” to this country. Congress has authorized the training and arming Syrian rebels, but hasn’t yet debated whether to send American aviators into hostile air space to bomb ISIL forces.

That’s warfare, as I understand the meaning of the term.

Shouldn’t we be having this debate? Shouldn’t Congress declare war on ISIL if that is what the commander in chief says is occurring as we seek to “degrade and ultimately destroy” this terrorist cult?

Baker says 'I told you so' … in effect

Former Secretary of State James Baker III didn’t have to wag his finger and say “I told you so.”

But he implied it anyway when asked over the weekend about the decision in 1991 not to march into Baghdad and overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Baker was interviewed on Meet the Press and the question came from moderator Chuck Todd: Do you still stand by your decision not to take out Saddam Hussein?

Yes, Baker said without hesitation. Why? Because, he noted, we would have encountered the same problem we’re encountering this very moment: trying to build a nation from scratch.

The mission in 1991 was clear: toss Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, where they had invaded in August 1990. The world would not tolerate one nation overrunning another nation and putting a massive supply of oil in jeopardy. President Bush sought permission from Congress and got it. He then went to the United Nations and got permission from the world body to use force to oust Iraqi troops.

The U.N. resolution was clear: Remove the troops from Kuwait, period. Don’t go any further. The president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff understood what the resolution said and the president would honor it to the letter.

James Baker brought together a coalition of nations to aid in that effort.

What the former secretary of state also seemed to imply — at least to my ears — was that tossing Saddam Hussein out in March 2003 is the source of all the trouble that is occurring in Iraq today. We’re still trying to build a democratic government in a country that’s never known freedom and liberty the way we understand the meaning of the terms.

The crisis in Iraq in Syria has gotten complicated almost beyond comprehension. It’s now up to the current administration to seek a solution. Still, it’s fair to ask: Did we really consider fully the consequences of what would happen the moment we decided to overthrow a sovereign government?

Did anyone back in 2003 bother to ask James Baker what might happen?

Coalition building … then and now

James Baker III is a great American who’s served with honor over many years as secretary of state, secretary of commerce and White House chief of staff.

It was his job at the State Department that has brought him into the discussion over how President Obama should handle the fight against the Islamic State.

Baker appeared today on Meet the Press and expressed — no surprise there — misgivings about Obama’s plan to fight ISIL. Specifically, Baker questioned the ability of the president to gather the coalition needed to destroy the terrorists. He compared the latest coalition-building plan to the effort launched in 1990 in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War.

I have great respect for Baker, but the comparison isn’t entirely apt.

Baker was tasked with recruiting nations to aid in the ousting of Iraqi forces that invaded Kuwait, the oil-rich emirate. The mission was clear and simple: Oust the Iraqis from Kuwait using maximum military force.

President George H.W. Bush ordered the deployment of 500,000 American troops. Baker persuaded allies to send in another 200,000 troops. The allies — including the British, French and, oh yes, the Syrians — sent troops into combat to oust Saddam Hussein’s forces.

The task before Barack Obama, according to Baker, is to persuade Sunni Muslim nations to actually aid in a fight that hasn’t yet been defined. The president won’t commit ground troops; Baker believes we need to send special operations forces into Syria and Iraq to aid in locating targets for the air campaign that Obama has planned.

My point here is that the enemy isn’t nearly as clearly defined as the enemy was in Kuwait. Baker knows that as well. The Muslim nations need to have a clear mission, as do Americans who are weary of sending young warriors back into battle.

The conflict we’re entering now is infinitely more complicated than the 1990-91 Persian Gulf crisis.

Can it be done? Yes. With great care.

POTUS always on duty

What is it about presidential critics — and I lump them all together regardless of party — that makes them forget that presidents of the United States never are off the clock?

Byron York, writing for the Washington Examiner, is at it again, chafing at the notion that President Obama played some golf while the Iraq crisis heats up.


We’ve heard this so many times before I’ve lost count.

President George W. Bush was lampooned because he vacationed at his Central Texas ranch while crises erupted around the world; Bush also was known to tee it up as trouble arose.

President Ronald Reagan spent a great deal of time at his beloved Rancho Del Cielo in southern California.

President George H.W. Bush was photographed speeding around the Maine coastline aboard his “cigarette boat” while Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990.

President Bill Clinton also liked to play golf and, oh yes, the critics lampooned him too.

Presidents are on duty 24/7. They never go anywhere on the planet without the “football,” that case carrying the nuclear launch codes. They are briefed continually by their national security teams. They know what’s happening at all times.

York, though, takes umbrage at Barack Obama’s love of golf. Allow me this, Byron: Dwight Eisenhower liked to play the game as well, as did John Kennedy, Gerald Ford, G.H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

So bleeping what if the president enjoys some relaxation? Let him relax and seek to stay sharp when the chips are down and he has to respond to whatever crisis is erupting.